Child-proofing the planet
Cool Tips for a Hot Planet
When our babies arrive, we child-proof the cupboards, gate the stairs. We don’t leave them in a hot car with the windows rolled up. As they grow, we tell them to eat their vegetables and do their homework. We read to them, schlepp them to sports, to music lessons. Why? Because we want them safe, healthy, happy and equipped for the future.
It was that way when we were kids, too.
But things have changed. This is not the climate we grew up with. It’s not even the climate my daughter was born into 28 years ago. Now we’re telling them to eat their vegetables in a house that’s on fire. In fact, our global home has become so hot people have been experimenting with cooking everything from burgers to cakes in overheated cars. And ocean temperatures off south Florida reached hot tub levels in July, which was expected to be the hottest month ever recorded.
That month the UN secretary general said, “The era of global warming has ended. The era of global boiling has arrived.”
When I was born atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were 310 parts per million. When my daughter was born, they were 360. Today, they top 420 – something not seen for millions of years. That extra C02 is largely from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas since the onset of the Industrial Revolution. It thickens our atmospheric blanket, holding in more planetary heat.
A study released in May unveiled some of the culprits: heat trapping emissions of 88 of the world’s largest fossil fuel producers (including several in Canada) are responsible for 37 per cent of the extreme wildfires in western North America since 1986.
Surveys reveal that today’s kids are stressing over climate breakdown and some are questioning whether or not to have kids of their own.
That’s the kind of threat parents are increasingly adding to their child protection concerns. In 2019, a Canadian dad started For Our Kids, a national network of parents and grandparents that now numbers 5,400 members and 25 affiliated groups, including For Our Grandchildren in Peterborough.
They are united by their love for their children and instinct to protect them from worsening climate risks. For Our Kids provides research on policy issues and support for local environmental actions – everything from writing politicians to organizing bike to school days.
This summer they’ve been calling for improvements to the federal government’s Sustainable Jobs legislation so no one gets left behind in the transition to a clean energy economy.
They are also encouraging support for the Climate Aligned Finance Act. Canada’s big banks are among the top 20 financiers of fossil fuels in the world, with RBC number one. The proposed act would ensure Canada’s banks develop plans that align with climate science instead of making the situation worse.
And they want parents to tell the federal government to speed up Clean Electricity Regulations, before further delays allow provinces like Ontario to expand the use of gas-fired power plants.
At a time when oil and gas companies keep rolling up the car windows with our kids inside, it’s great to hear about parents using their fierce protective instincts to fight back and help ensure that in future, the vegetables kids eat are cooked on the stove, not in the car.